Midterm elections: 12 House races to watch to judge size of a GOP 'wave'

Most observers expect Republicans to take over the House of Representatives, but more than 100 races could go either way. The magic number Republicans need to gain to take control: 39. Here are a handful of races to keep an eye on in the states with early-closing polls.

8. Illinois' 14th

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    Democratic Rep. Bill Foster (r.) and Republican challenger Randy Hultgren.
    Courtesy Hultgren/Foster campaigns/AP
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Illinois is a normally blue state that this election suddenly seems on the fence, with a Senate and gubernatorial race that may well go to Republicans, and it has a number of close House races.

The 14th District, in Chicago’s western suburbs, had been reliably Republican until recently – a sign of shifting voting patterns in suburban Chicago – and conservative Democrat Bill Foster has held the seat since 2007. It was a big coup for Democrats at the time, since he took over the seat of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

Congressman Foster is a moderate, but his challenger, state Sen. Randy Hultgren, has attacked him for voting for health-care reform and being in lockstep with the Democratic leadership. Recent polls don’t look good for Foster, and it seems likely Mr. Hultgren will win.

As with Illinois' 11th and 17th Districts, this is a seat that seems likely to go to Republicans, but where a Foster victory would signal a better-than-expected night for Democrats. A Republican victory in the Eighth, meanwhile, where Democratic Rep. Melissa Bean is favored, is likely only as part of a sizeable Republican wave. And Illinois has one of the few GOP-held seats (Illinois 10th) that Democrats have a chance of picking off.

Polls close here at 8 p.m. Eastern time.

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